John Shimooka died in the early hours of Monday morning, according to Surfing NSW, an Australian governing body for surfing in New South Wales

By Gabrielle Chung
November 16, 2020 08:55 PM
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John Shimooka
| Credit: John Shimooka/instagram

John Shimooka, a former world tour surfer affectionately known as "Shmoo," has died at the age of 51.

Shimooka died in the early hours of Monday morning, according to Surfing NSW, an Australian governing body for surfing in New South Wales.

"A talented former world tour surfer, commentator, jiu jitsu black belt and General Manager of Partnerships for Surfing NSW since 2018, 'Shmoo' was a much-loved member of the global surfing community and the Surfing NSW family," the organization said in a statement. "He will be remembered for his passion for the lifestyle as well as his energy and enthusiasm."

"Everyone in our organization joins his son, Brandon, immediate family, and his extended worldwide network of friends, in grieving his loss," the statement continued. "It is our saddest day. We will commemorate and celebrate John’s life in the days and weeks to come."

Though a cause of death was not given, Surfing NSW did include a contact number for Lifeline — a non-profit organization that provides free crisis support and suicide prevention services in Australia — alongside its statement on Facebook.

A native of Hawaii, Shimooka competed in the World Surf League's men's Championship Tour between 1989 and 1998.

World Surf League, a governing body for professional surfers, said in a statement that they were "saddened to learn of the passing of John Shimooka."

"A former CT surfer, industry executive, commentator and coach, he made a major impact on the surfing world," the organization said. "Our hearts are with his family and friends. RIP John (1969 - 2020)."

Kelly Slater, an 11-time world champion surfer, also paid tribute to Shimooka in the wake of his death.

"My heart’s ripped out," he captioned a photo of himself and Shimooka on Instagram. "I'm sorry, Shmoo. I thought we had this."

"No-sense♥️🙏🏼♥️I thought so too," former professional surfer Tom Carroll wrote in the comments. "♥️Shmoo R.I.P.♥️"

Meanwhile, four-time world surfing champion Lisa Andersen commented on Shimooka's most recent Instagram post, writing, "I’m lost for words. Hope you are at peace 💛."

If you or someone you know need mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.